The 2014 Occult Detective Awards: Fiction
Day two of the 5th Annual Occult Detective Awards finds us looking into the senses-shattering world of horror fiction. I tend to read a lot. Not as much as some, but a helluva lot more than most. I made it through more than 80 works this year (fiction and non-fiction combined) but picking out the best of the lot is never easy. You’ll recognize some familiar names in the following list. Why? Because when you do right by me, I revisit the well. Great storytellers are hard to come by. Write a story that captures my imagination and I’ll be back for more.
Revival by Stephen King
King releases his inner Lovecraft in this superb tale of loss and madness. Disquieting, there is an almost infinite sadness in Revival that bears down on you. King is a master of character and you’ll find a rich tapestry of such within. As for the story itself, well, it certainly went places I wasn’t expecting, especially in the novel’s final pages.
The Last of the Albatwitches by Brian Keene
I am unabashedly a huge fan of Keene’s Levi Stoltzfus. Invoking the spirit of the late, great Manly Wade Wellman, Keene has delivered another tense thriller featuring everyone’s favorite ex-Amish occult detective by taking a local folk tradition and dialing it up to 11. Why? Because that’s what Keene does and he does it well.
The Nickronomicon by Nick Mamatas
One of the things I love about Mamatas is that he’s a literary chameleon and with this collection of Mythos tales he gets to showcase this talent in strange, perverse, and subversive ways. Mamatas is always fresh and innovative, and The Nickronomicon finds him at his neoteric finest. With a knack for seeing not only the man behind the curtain, but also the ghost inside the machine, Mamatas is able to take the reader on a surrealistic ride through chimerical and apocryphal nightmares like few others.
The Weiser Book of Horror and the Occult, edited by Lon Milo DuQuette
You’d be hard-pressed to find a better assemblage of esoteric tales. Featuring 15 masterpieces of occult fiction from such notable authors as M.R. James, H.P. Lovecraft, Aleister Crowley, Arthur Machen, and more, this is an anthology I’ve already earmarked to be a Hallowe’en staple.
Best Short Story
“Bedlam in Yellow” by William Meikle (In the Court of the Yellow King, edited by Glynn Owen Barrass)
In the Court of the Yellow King is a brilliant Mythos anthology, but “Bedlam in Yellow” shines just a little bit brighter because Meikle does the unthinkable by writing a Carnacki tale that rivals Hodgson’s original stories. A neo-pulpist, Meikle is a consistent and reliable storyteller, regardless of genre, but he really sings when he delves into occult detective thrillers.